Ukrainian Bodyguards Take Lessons From Foreign Trainers

KIEV, Ukraine -- Bodyguards have long been a part of the post-Soviet landscape in Ukraine, hired by the country’s new capitalist elite as much for decor as protection.

Titan bodyguards

But providing security is also a business, and like other businesses in Ukraine, is developing with input from abroad.

The Ukrainian Union of Police Peacekeepers Veterans (UUPPV) has invited in a foreign trainer to conduct an upgrade course for Ukrainian bodyguards in accordance with the standards of the International Bodyguards Association (IBA).

From June 15 to 21, the UUPPV held a course taught by British citizen James Shortt, the general director of IBA.

“Intelligence, professionalism and literacy are the main points of our training,” said Yuriy Kozlenko, the director of UUPPV.

According to Kozlenko, the idea is to change the Ukrainian public’s perception of bodyguards, as well as the mentality of the country’s bodyguards themselves.

“They shouldn’t be considered heroes who catch bullets for the person they are guarding, but should know how to arrange security at the highest level, so that an attacker will have no room for his attack,” Kozlenko said.

Shortt’s course was his second in Ukraine, following an earlier one held last January.

The market for bodyguards is on the rise in Ukraine. The State Guard Service, which is a market participant and regulator, has issued around 5,000 licenses to various security agencies since Ukraine became independent, and more than 300 private security companies are currently registered in Kyiv alone.

According to Kozlenko, as demand for professional bodyguards increases, private bodyguard companies are beginning to pay more attention to strategic thinking in addition to paramilitary training.

“Bodyguards must be intelligent, reliable and well-organized. We are talking about a completely different system of security, which is not spectacular, but effective and efficient,” said Kozlenko.

Shortt, who also licenses instructors according to IBA standards, teaches bodyguards with military backgrounds the total safety concept, including attention to their own behavior and dress.

According to the State Guard Service, the annual turnover of the bodyguard business in Ukraine is Hr 27-28 million ($5.6 million).

The biggest share of this business, around 25-30 percent, belongs to the State Guard Service, whose subunit, Titan, provides Hr 7.5 million ($1.5 million) worth of body guard services annually.

The State Guard Service, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, earned its leading position on the market due to its monopoly on the use of firearms.

Bodyguards from all other Ukrainian bodyguard agencies are prohibited from carrying firearms, according to Ukrainian legislation.

“Bodyguards from private companies work within the same legal limits as normal Ukrainian citizens, and the legal consequences of his client’s protection are the same as if he would be a passerby,” said Vitaly Maksymovych, the managing director of the private security firm Sprut, which provides security for 1,700 facilities in Kyiv.

Private bodyguards are allowed to carry only BB guns, gas pistols or rubber bullets.

All the same, according to Maksymovych, the industry isn’t suffering as result.

“Bodyguard services are the third largest security market niche after electronic security and physical security of real estate,” he said.

The majority of bodyguards’ clients live in Kyiv and other big cities, like Donetsk, Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk.

The State Guard Service said that they protect a third of all bodyguard clients across Ukraine.

State and private security companies agree that the bodyguard market will continue to grow, especially if new legislation is passed.

“Last year we got more than 50 new customers,” said Petro Synycky, the deputy director of the State Guard Service.

Titan’s staff totals 663 bodyguards and 229 reservists, he added.

Bodyguard services are still relatively cheap in Ukraine.

“In Kyiv, prices start from Hr 25 ($5) per hour. In other Ukrainian cities, the price is Hr 12-20 per hour. In Moscow, they cost at least 15-20 euros per hour,” said Synycky.

All Titan bodyguards are required to have a state certificate of qualification from a training school in Vinnytsya Region. This is the only place in Ukraine where a bodyguard can become qualified.

Shortt’s course is a supplement to this certification.

“There are a lot of private bodyguard schools, but none of them give you the right to work for the State Guard Service,” stressed Synycky.

“According to current legislation, bodyguards have to pass an appropriate course, medical, psychological, and take a drug test to get a job. It’s not necessary to go through military service, but it’s obvious that those who didn’t are not going to work in security,” said Maksymovych.

“The key point in a Ukrainian bodyguard school is to teach someone how to manage a dangerous attack by a malefactor, but they don’t teach them how to foresee it and keep it from happening,” said the UUPPV’s Kozlenko.

The IBA training program is oriented toward improvement and upgrading the skills of bodyguards who already work in this sphere.

“All training schools, like Vinnytsya training school, give only basic knowledge and the right to call a person a bodyguard, but it doesn’t mean he is a professional,” said Kozlenko.

It takes 40 days and Hr 1,624 ($325) to get a bodyguard diploma approved by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the Vinnytsya training school.

A total of 350 bodyguards graduated from the Vinnytsya training school in 2005, some of them currently work for Titan, and others for private companies.

“In our program, we stress physical training and drill tactics. We also pay attention to psychological preparation of bodyguards, but, unfortunately, it isn’t enough. So I would say the more upgrading trainings that are introduced in Ukraine, the better,” said Yuriy Kovalchuk, the deputy chief of training at the school.

“We train bodyguards for nongovernmental security services, business people and politicians who are not provided with free security,” said Kozlenko.

IBA plans to eventually hold courses to train Ukrainian trainers, who will then become licensed to upgrade Ukrainian bodyguards according to IBA standards.

Shortt’s basic training costs Hr 5,040 ($1,000) and lasts 40 hours; while specialized training costs Hr 2,520 and lasts 20 hours.

“We know Mr. Shortt from bodyguard competitions, which take place every autumn in Yalta. Some of our employees have visited his lectures, but now it is impossible to free bodyguards up from service for [additional] training,” said the State Guard Service’s Petro Synycky.

Source: Kyiv Post

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